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‘Compass’ leads the way overseas

Film finds its way at the foreign box office

The second weekend of “The Golden Compass” showed far more traction overseas than domestically, with the film leading the foreign box office on the strength of a $29 million take from 6,800 playdates.

Domestic champ “I Am Legend” launched impressively overseas with $20 million at 1,300 in only eight Asian markets for a powerful per-print average of better than $15,300. Initial foreign perf underlines Will Smith’s worldwide appeal and portends a powerful offshore run as “Legend” opens in Europe in the next frame.

The next two weekends of 2007 look likely to assure foreign biz for the six majors will finish well ahead of last year, with the final figure rising some 15% to finish at about $9.7 billion. Last year’s tally was a record $8.6 billion.

Overall, international biz turned in solid numbers as the holiday season kicked into gear with “Bee Movie” and “Enchanted” combining for another $36 million offshore.

Compass” took in more than three times the Stateside tally, raising the international cume to $90 million after a dozen days — already more than twice the domestic total. The action-fantasy should remain a respectable, rather than blockbuster, player among families through the holiday season.

Top takes for the fantasy film over the frame came from holdover markets in Europe, led by the U.K. with $6.3 million, down 47% for a $25 million cume, and in Germany with $3.3 million, down 30%. “Compass” slid 40% in Spain to $3 million and fell 52% in France to $2.7 million. “Compass” opened with identical $2.3 million launches in Italy and Mexico. New Line sold off foreign markets to finance the pic.

“I Am Legend” grabbed most of its moolah from Japan with $6.4 million — on par with “Die Hard 4” — and South Korea with $6.3 million, followed by $2.4 million in Taiwan and $1.45 million in Thailand. The sci-fier hits Europe next weekend.

Family fare turned in solid numbers during the frame with Paramount’s “Bee Movie” buzzing its way to $20 million at 4,122 in 44 markets and Disney’s “Enchanted” conjuring up $16 million at 3,450 in 28 territories. “Enchanted” topped “Bee” in head-to-head British launches with $5.2 million, $800,000 ahead of the toon.

“Bee” added $3 million from its French debut and $2 million in Germany as its early foreign take hit $58 million. The Jerry Seinfeld toon has so far outperformed 2006’s “Over the Hedge,” which wound up with $180 million overseas.

“Enchanted” easily beat “The Golden Compass” in Mexico, winning with $3.3 million, and drew $2.3 million in its third French frame. The Amy Adams vehicle is matching Disney expectations with $54.7 million overseas, and it launches next frame in a dozen markets including Germany and Scandinavia.

In addition to the expansion of “I Am Legend,” the pre-Christmas weekend will also see competition ratchet up with Disney going day-and-date in 17 markets, including Japan, South Korea and Spain, for sequel “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”

“Alvin and the Chipmunks” opened with $2 million at only 298 in 10 small markets, led by a first-place finish in Singapore with $622,000. Fox will go wide with “Alvin” next weekend, hitting most major territories including France, Germany, Spain and the U.K.

Fox’s “Hitman” bagged $7.4 million at 1,800, with its top take the $1.8 million opening in Germany. As with many actioners, the international market has been a respectable source of coin for the pic; its foreign cume has hit $35 million, just $3 million short of the domestic total.

“Beowulf,” which led the foreign box office for three frames before “Golden Compass” launched, chipped in with $4.5 million at 4,500 to hit the $100 million mark — $20 million ahead of the domestic total.

Universal’s “American Gangster” — still early in its foreign run as it awaits awards season to pick up — grossed $3.5 million at 1,764 to lift foreign cume to $52.5 million. Par’s “The Heartbreak Kid” continued to offset its downbeat domestic perf with $3.5 million to push the foreign cume to $84 million, well over double the pic’s Stateside total.

Fox saw a mild launch of “The Simpsons Movie” in Japan, with $69,000 at 66. But the toon’s been an outsized performer overseas, with $342.4 million total.

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